Showing posts with label Command Performance. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Command Performance. Show all posts

Sunday, June 14, 2015

June 14: Burl Ives

Whether it was his irascible personality in various motion pictures or as an animated host for playful reindeer, people instantly knew who Burl Ives was. Mr Ives had the voice that played to the radio audience because of its intrinsic calming quality and valued variance of intonation. Born June 14 of 1909, Burl Ives captured the American stage, movie and radio enclave with an almost operatic enhancement. One could say his first public performance was of him singing to a group of old soldiers. His uncle asked him to sing before the group and immediately his talents were noticed.

His early days had him partnered with the Boy Scouts of America as a spokesman and a former scout. Radio was a big part of Burl Ives, beginning with his first 1940’s radio program called The Wayfaring Stranger, where Ives first heard the news of WWII. Mr Ives continued to work on radio guest-starring on programs such as Bing Crosby, Martin and Lewis and Command Performance. He continued to parlay his hand with folk music, becoming part of the “The Almanacs”. As the war with Germany was going on, Burl Ives and his group could be seen around the country supporting the war effort and urging Americans to stay strong.

In 1947, Ives paired with the Andrews Sisters to record for Decca Records and held for weeks one of the highest selling recordings of the day. Although cleared of any communist sympathies, Burl Ives had to face the charges during the 1950s.

During this period, and into the 60’s, Mr Ives performed in various motion pictures. Into the 90’s, he was a great lover and performer of country music, stay involved in films and lent his voice to animated characters. He is probably most remembered as the host snowman for the classic , “Rudolph, The Red-nosed Reindeer”. Burl Ives was married twice and one son.

In 1995 he passed away from complications dealing with oral cancer. It has always been a well-known belief that Burl Ives personified joy and happiness in everything he did...and lived.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

April 28: Happy Birthday, Lionel Barrymore

Lionel Barrymore's 61st birthday celebrated at MGM with a few of his friends! Norma Sheaerer on his right and Rosalind Russell on his left.  In back of him he has Mickey Rooney, Robert Montgomery,  Clark Gable, Louis B. Mayer, William Powell and Robert Taylor. 
Known to have been a reluctant performer in a family full of them, Lionel Barrymore is much loved for his annual performance as Ebenezer Scrooge on various old time radio programs. His biggest gig was in The Story of Doctor Kildare, in the role of Doctor Gillespie. Gillespie was the older doctor who graciously mentored Kildare.

He was the mayor of the town Mayor of the Town, a 1940s radio series, and made many appearances on Lux Radio Theatre, Command Performance, and Kraft Music Hall.

He would go on to shine as a screen actor in such movies as It's a Wonderful Life and A Free Soul, winning an Oscar for the latter. Ask your friends if they know who was born today in 1878. Tell 'em Lionel Barrymore -- that's who!

Friday, October 17, 2014

October 17: Happy Birthday, Rita Hayworth



A dancer as a child and actress and sex symbol as an adult, Rita Hayworth was born Margerita Carmen Cansino on this day in 1918.

Star of Gilda, Pal Joey, and Separate Tables, the stunning brunette was also once married to Orson Welles and romantically involved with Prince Aly Khan, Aga Khan's son.

But let's allow others to worry about her lovelife, her scandals and intrigues.  We're here to celebrate her radio performances: there were many.  She appeared on The Lux Radio Theatre, Gulf Screen Guild Theatre, The Pepsodent Show (hosted by Bob Hope), Suspense, and Command Performance.  On these top-flight shows, she acted alongside Cary Grant, Cecil B. DeMille, George Burns, and Angela Lansbury.

Hayworth was dashing and sensual, and has been recognized by collective memory as one of the great film actresses of all time.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

September 16: Happy Birthday, Lauren Bacall


Lauren Bacall, today's birthday girl (1924) may be the only Hollywood figure to ever win the award for Prettiest Usher, a distinction Ms. Bacall garnered in 1942 while working on Broadway.  Incidentally, she made the acquaintance of ace thespian Gregory Peck while toiling in this capacity.

We may best know Bacall from her "bogey and fame", but she is now of course a legend in her own right, known not just for her elegance and beauty but for her considerable acting chops.

Her electrifying  voice played no small part in this, and it is what caused her to translate to radio so well.  Let's not forget that the dynamic duo of Bogey and Bacall also starred in a radio program called Bold Venture.  It was sort of about Bogart's characters' love for his small boat, but Bacall co-starred, and actors like William Conrad, David Rose, and Jester Hairston were also involved.

Ms. Bacall was also a gas on such radio programs as Command Performance and Let's Playwright.  In 1997, she gave an introduction to a broadcast fundraising event for Bill Clinton.  How's that for versatility?

Lauren Bacall passed away earlier this year (2014) at the age of 89.  Happy Birthday, Lauren Bacall!

Saturday, May 3, 2014

May 3: Happy Birthday, Bing Crosby


A stirrer of the imagination, a soother of souls, a gentle and loyal companion, Bing Crosby is a crooner for all-time, a superstar of the twentieth century. Known for his songs "White Christmas," "Surrender Dear," and "Sweet Leilani," the baritone was called "the most admired man alive" by Yank magazine.

From 1935-'43, Crosby appeared regularly on Kraft Music Hall. He also made many appearances on Command Performance and Philco Radio Time. These performances, in addition to showcasing his now-legendary vocal skills, allowed him to work with the biggest names of the day, including Peggy Lee, Boris Karloff, Al Jolson, Groucho Marx, and Fred Astaire.

The story has it that his nickname Bing (he was born Harry) came from his infatuation with the comic strip Bingville Bugle.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

April 12: Happy Birthday, Ann Miller



Today we commemorate the birth on this day in 1920 of charming and lovely screen actress Ann Miller. No flash in the pan or overnight success, Miller paid her dues and toiled for years before becoming a major film star.

She is reputed to have been discovered by Lucille Ball during a nightclub song and dance act, and went on to spectacular musical roles in such films as "Small Town Girl," "On The Town," and "Kiss Me Kate."

The versatile performer made a few, memorable radio appearances. Many of these were on the shows devoted to entertaining the WWII troops, including G.I. Journal and Command Performance. In 1940, she appeared in Forecast a series highlighting notable people from a particular state. Her episode took a look at Texas's Sam Houston.

Happy birthday, Ann Miller!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

March 22: Happy Birthday, Chico Marx

March 22: Happy Birthday, Chico Marx

It's pronounced "Chick-o." Legend has it that in an early press release, the typesetter forgot the "k," and in a spirit of whimsy, the Marx Brothers left it that way. It therefore began to be pronounced the way it was spelled, and the name essentially began going by either pronunciation.

In the fall of '32, the mispronounced Marx brother began appearing with just Groucho on a radio program called Flywheel, Shyster, and Flywheel, the Monday installment of Standard Oil's Five Star Theatre. Chico played Emmanuel Ravelli, the assistant to Groucho's lawyer character.

In Spring of '34, the two had a quick stint on a show called Marx of Time which lampooned current events.

Chico appeared in a handful of episodes of Pabst Blue Ribbon Town, which Groucho Marx hosted.

He also lent his talents to Command Performance, Radio Hall of Fame, and Hollywood Hotel. The piano-playing funny man died in October of 1961. His real name was Leonard.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

March 16: Happy Birthday, Henny Youngman


Not quite St. Patty's Day and not the Ides of March, today is still special by way of marking the birth of comic groundbreaker Henny Youngman. There are many examples of people who adore Youngman's work. Take my wife...please. Youngman wrote that seminal one-liner, along with, "I miss my wife's cooking...as often as possible," and "I was so ugly, when I was born, the doctor slapped my mother."

Youngman was born Henry Yungman in Liverpool, England, in 1906. He learned the violin, began playing it in a jazz combo in American nightclubs, and then got into comedy. He ground out the brutal nightclub circuit for the rest of his life, though for much of it was an established star.

His fame as a comedian took him to old-time radio, with appearances on Radio Hall of Fame and Command Performance. We salute the King of the One-Liner, Henny Youngman.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

November 23: Happy Birthday, Harpo Marx



According to his memoir, Harpo Marx was thrown out of school in the second grade.  But not how you might think.  Literally thrown out.  In Harpo Marx, the blonde-maned, second-oldest Marx brother says that Irish bullies in his New York City elementary school would convey him out the window of his learning institution.

No, the school didn't throw Harpo (born Adolph Marx) out: he quit.

From there, it was comedy on stage, screen, and airwaves.  Fans of harp solos should check out Mr. Marx's appearances on Command Performance, and The Burns and Allen Show.  We salute today's birthday boy, Harpo Marx.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

October 31: Happy Birthday, Ethel Waters



Tied for Halloween for greatest significance today is the birthday of singer, actress, and pioneer, Ethel Waters.

Waters was a groundbreaker and trailblazer for many later African-American singers and performers of all stripes.  She ground out a living on the hard-scrabble vaudeville circuit in the early 20th century, then became a staple of the still-developing artform known as jazz.  She's best known for her big hit songs such as "Dinah," "Stormy Weather," and "Heat Wave."

She was the first African-American woman to star in a nationally-broadcast radio program, and turned in great appearances on Jubilee, The Tex and Jinx Show, The Big Show, and Command Performance.  We salute a strong and successful woman and a great addition to the universe of oldtime radio.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

September 3: Happy Birthday Alan Ladd!

Sept 3: Happy Birthday, Alan Ladd



Alan Ladd (born Alan Walbridge Ladd) debut as a lead in a major motion picture was in 1942 in This Gun for Hire. This collection includes his radio version of This Gun for Hire from Lux Radio TheaterAlan Ladd with Daughter Alana
Alan Ladd with daughter, Alana
Other films that he starred in include, The Great Gatsby, The Blue Dahlia, and The Glass Key. He continued to star in major roles such as the critically acclaimed Shane in the 1950s and until his death in 1964. Remembered both on screen and on the radio as a top-rate performer.

This collection hopes to honor the work of Alan Ladd on radio. The second volumes contains the complete collection of Box 13, his most memorable role on radio as Dan Holiday. On the first volume there are also examples of some of his best work on the radio from shows such as Burns and AllenCommand PerformanceJerry at Fair OaksLux Radio TheaterScreen Director's TheaterScreen Guild Theater, and Suspense.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

July 16: Happy Birthday, Ginger Rogers


The Rogers of Astaire and Rogers was born July 16, 1911. The lovely Ginger Rogers was a  captivating dancer and actress would perform more than 10 movies with Fred Astaire and be a romantic focus of his as well. Born Virginia Katherine McMath in Independence Missouri, Ginger would grow up with her grandparents in Kansas City. During this time her mother worked in Hollywood writing scripts. Due to the fact one of her cousins could not properly pronounce her first name, she took on the nickname of “Ginga’.” “Ginga’” moved to Texas where where her mother was working as a theatre critic for a Fort Worth newspaper. During this time, Miss Rogers became fascinated with the stage and started to learn to sing and dance. She became involved vaudeville and the stage, performing in a number of productions. One of her most memorable was Girl Crazy, where she met the choreographer, Fred Astaire, for the first time. By 1929 she had moved onto Hollywood and became a film performer. During the years of 33-39 she made a number of films with Astaire as her dancing partner. Rogers made a number of guest appearances on radio. her academy award winning Kitty Foyle was a showpiece on Lux Radio Theatre. She also made appearances on Command Performance, Screen Guild Theatre, G.I. Journal and Suspense. Ginger Rogers had as much presence on-air as she did on the motion picture screen. She was married five times, but never to Fred Astaire. She loved to perform, be involved in civics and enjoyed people. She left this world in 1995 of a heart attack. She had danced her last earthly dance.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

June, 30: Happy Birthday, Lena Horne

Lena Mary Calhoun Horne was born June 30, 1917. This versatile lady would grown to become an inspiring actress, singer, dancer and involved in civil rights. This descendant of notable early American colonists, John C Calhoun; Lena Horne spent a very uninspired childhood shuffling from grandparents to mother to an uncle growing up. Her mother was involved in a roving black troupe and that had an early impact on Horne’s desire to entertain.

By 1933, Ms Horne became a part of the Cotton Club in NYC. She later became a part of Noble Sissle’s Orchestra, with whom she made her first recording with Decca Records. She then became the main vocalist for the The Chamber Music Society of Lower Basin Street with NBC. during the 30’s and into the 40’s she made a few low-budget films. In 1944, Lena was featured in the radio mystery program Suspense, which featured her singing and acting as a nightclub performer. Also during the period of WWII, Lena Horne could be heard singing on radio programs like, Command Performance, Mail Call and G.I. Journal.

These on-air programs were major hits with the servicemen overseas. By the 1950’s and into the early 90’s, Ms. Horne would be seen on television programs with the likes of Bill Cosby and Frank Sinatra. She was very involved with civil rights issues that affected African-Americans. Lena Horne was married twice and had a son (passed away of kidney disease) and a daughter, Gail, that became a noted author. Lena Horne left this earth in 2010 after a heart attack. The Grammy award winning singer and actress had finally gone home.

Friday, April 5, 2013

April 5: Happy Birthday, Bette Davis


Rumored to have intimidated--and insulted--Marilyn Monroe on the set of All about Eve, Bette Davis is one of the icons of the 40's and 50's. Known as a diva among divas, feuding with Joan Crawford and Humphrey Bogart and flicking her acerbic opinions into the air like so many ashes from her ever-present cigarettes, she was much more than a doe-eyed princess.

She first hit the airwaves in 1935 on an episode of Shell Chateau. From there, Bette Davis appeared in Command Performance, Calvalcade of America, and many episodes of Lux Radio Theater. Her most regular gig was on Whispering Streets, in 1958.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

April 3: Happy Birthday, Doris Day



On Mar. 28, 1952, CBS took the air with The Doris Day Show, a radio program featuring an established recording artist and actress. The show used the format that was by then a staple: soothing musical numbers and then performances by guests, most of them stars of stage, screen, and air. Guests included Kirk Douglas, Ronald Reagan, Danny Thomas, and Ray Bolger. Howard Keel was probably the most frequent guest, with Gordon MacRae not far behind.

As was the case with many of the big stars of the time period, Day also made plenty of appearances on the various big-name radio shows. The fetching singer-actress climbed the radio ladder with appearances on The Rudy Vallee Show, Command Performance, The Bob Hope Show, Kraft Music Hall and Stars For Defense.

The songstress who gave us "Till The End of Times," "My Dreams are Getting Better All the Time," and "I Got the Sun in the Mornin'" lives on in the memories of old time radio fans.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

January 3: Happy Birthday, Victor Borge

January 3: Happy Birthday, Victor Borge

Victor Borge was a Danish and American comedian affectionately known as “The Great Dane” and “The Clown Prince of Denmark.”

Born in Copenhagen, Denmark, Borge was a talented pianist. He spent much of his younger years learning and playing concerts. When the Nazis occupied Denmark during World War II, Borge was playing a concert in Sweden and was able to escape to Finland. He traveled to America on the USS American Legion, the last ship to make it out of Petsamo, Finland.

Borge didn’t speak any English when he arrived in America, but he quickly learned by “studying” in movie theaters. Rudy Vallee offered him an opportunity on his radio show, and Borge soon became part of Kraft Music Hall. He also made many guest appearances on Command Performance, Fibber McGee and Molly, Jubilee, and Mail Call.

Victor never stopped working. He continued to perform and tour throughout his life. Even at the age of 90, Borge was still making 60 appearances a year.

Many of Borge’s performances had physical elements that were more suited for television and the stage than radio. He made many appearances on both throughout his storied career of almost 75 years.

Victor Borge, the melancholy Dane, passed away on December 23rd, 2000 at the age of 91.